PUBLISHER'S PERSPECTIVE: Remain Calm, Everyone! - BodyShop Business
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PUBLISHER’S PERSPECTIVE: Remain Calm, Everyone!

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It seems like every time I turn on the radio or TV or pick up a newspaper, doom and gloom news about the economy abounds. Banks, auto makers, this group and that group are waving the red flag and saying that their industry is being devastated by the current economic woes.

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Frankly, I’ve just about had enough of that. I readily acknowledge that we’re in unprecedented times and reason for caution and change are evident. I’m a realist and agree that the country is going through some tough times, so  there, now no one can accuse me of not addressing the obvious! Now, let’s move to our little corner of the world and discuss what is directly affecting us.

If you’re expecting me to start listing all of the things that are negatively impacting our business today, stop reading. I’m not going to do that. I would rather spend my time reviewing some positives about our space.

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You see, that’s the problem with an industry that’s in a decline: The more the industry dwells on the negatives, the further the decline goes. It feeds on itself to the point that it proves itself correct. We need to examine the positive factors in our business and build upon them. So let’s examine what it is we do here in our industry.

First and foremost, we repair vehicles that have been damaged. In order for vehicles to need repair, they have to be involved in a natural disaster or an accident. Since I’m out of magic dust to create natural disasters, we need to focus on the accident side of the equation.

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It’s a given that people are driving less miles, but they’re still having accidents. Weather-related accidents are a large contributor to our business, along with our little friend the cell phone. This year was one of the coldest and most severe weather seasons in recent history. The miles being driven are likely to result in more accidents than in recent years. Misfortune for these drivers means business for us. The second accident culprit, the cell phone, hasn’t seen a decrease in sales or usage in the last five years – more good news for those of us in the collision repair industry.

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In a recent BodyShop Business survey, over 70 percent of shops said they expected their 2009 revenues to be greater than or equal to 2008. Take a minute and compare that as an industry to what you’re hearing about the general economy. It’s not uncommon for me to speak with people from other  industries who talk about sales declines of up to 40 percent. Imagine trying to run your business with 40 percent less revenue than before! In that scenario, things have to change dramatically if you want to stay in business.

Most of the shops I’ve spoken with are planning for a slight decrease year over year, but nothing close to 40 percent. Maybe for once, it’s good to be in the collision repair industry.

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As I explained in the beginning of this column, I’m not ignoring the dire economic challenges we all face together. What I’m saying is that we’re in a market that can survive and actually perform above average for the times. Success comes down to what I’ve written before: Make a plan. Decide what you want to accomplish and what your focus will be, and get out there and do it. Check your progress periodically and adjust where necessary.

Remember, people who don’t know where they want to go rarely ever get there! Stay positive and work your plan. We’re in the right place to get through this together.

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